Instigate – Unheeded Warnings of Decay Review

If you’ve read my reviews before, you know how cautious I am about the riff. While hordes of metal maniacs revel in it and many even choose metal entirely for it, I’m about the atmosphere. That being said, if the riff sticks, it sticks hard. Death metal albums like Dyscarnate‘s With All Their Might and Infernal Coil‘s Within a World Forgotten offer high octane insanity aplenty with just enough variety and atmosphere, giving further weight to the riff. Italian quartet Instigate invokes the riff – and hard – in debut Unheeded Warnings of Decay, but will it dwell in realms of excellence or dimensions of lamesauce?1

Citing influences like Misery Index, Suffocation, and the aforementioned Dyscarnate, Instigate aptly serves up riff-heavy death metal with a furious dose of grind. Sticking true to its influences, these Italians crank up the riff to a healthy 11, reveling in thirty-six minutes of unwavering kickassery. Pummeling blastbeats, chunky riffs, and beatdown sections outlined by vicious growls and techy flourishes reminiscent of members’ histories in Demiurgon, Bloodtruth, and Fleshgod Apocalypse, Unheeded Warnings of Decay is a grindy, groovy, vicious beast of impressive performances and unrelenting bloodlust. Varied enough to avoid mindless pummeling, but scathing enough to drive the point home, it may not be anything earth-moving, but it will certainly get your head moving.

Opener “Witness of the End Times” is a bit of a misdirect. Dissonant plucking opens up what feels like a deathcore breakdown, and I wonder if I received the wrong promo. You might be content letting your guard down, until it radically blasts the roof off with chunky riffs a la grind tempo, like Dyscarnate covering Rotten Sound. Thereafter, Unheeded Warnings frankly does not let up. Mid-tempo riffs grace tracks like “Liturgy of Emptiness,” “Indoctrinated Reborn,” and “Obliteration” with an ironically climactic calm, but otherwise, guitarist Steffano Rossi Ciucci and bassist Riccardo Rogari flash between chunky riffs, scathing tremolo, and technical flourishes with seamless grace and chaotic energy, while session drummer Francesco Paoli keeps up with insane precision between bone-snapping blastbeats and thunderous fills. While vocalist Stefano Borciani hardly wavers from beefy growls, they revel in grind-like simplicity – a nice change in pace from the instrumentals’ relentless chaos. Tracks like “Haruspex,” “Atonement,” and “Seeds of Cain” fill in the vacuum with complex technicality to boot, pick sweeps and pinch harmonics adding spice and upper register to the pummeling low-end.

If I’m being honest, there are no tracks that scream weak on Unheeded Warnings of Decay. It often settles into flexing its muscles instead, and in the outrageous exhibitionism present, some riffs overstay their welcome, such as the aforementioned opening of “Witness of the End Times” and central riff of “Obliteration.” However, the more obvious issue plaguing Instigate is that even for a relatively brief thirty-six minute listen, Unheeded Warnings is like any true grind album worth its salt – an utterly exhausting affair. Aside from the scattered mid-tempo passages, there are no moments of reprieve here, just a passage of eardrum-blasting insanity to another. If you’re in it for the grind and you wish acts like Dying Fetus and Misery Index had more oomph, then Instigate is your cup of tea. However, “Seeds of Cain” ends just as “Witness of the End Times” (after the intro) began and tracks can blur together, lacking depth and dimension aside from mind-blowing speed, brutality, and technicality. For people like me, needing a solid atmosphere to chew on, this debut felt lacking, even if the torture rack offers a bounty of gleeful surprises.

Instigate has created one hell of a debut here. Featuring veteran blood coursing through every vein, there is little decay to be found in the bludgeoning that ensues. When the intro of “Witness of the End Times” began, I rolled my eyes at the deathgrind name-drops, but by the time “Seeds of Cain” concluded, I was winded and heartily convinced. There are few death metal albums as pummeling, and offers another chapter in the storied book of deathgrind. Just you wait: although Instigate has yet to achieve its opus magnum, Unheeded Warnings of Decay sets the bar ridiculously high. With its relentless adherence to the riff, it’s safe to say that the realms of excellence are home sweet home.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Everlasting Spew Records
Websites: instigateofficial.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/instigateband
Releases Worldwide: June 24th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. 2009 called.
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